Kate Beckinsale: The Joys and Pain of Selene in the ‘Underworld’ Saga

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No one was more surprised at Kate Beckinsale’s four-film turn as the vampire Selene in the Underworld films than the actress herself. After all, the British beauty earned her reputation in costume dramas like Cold Comfort Farm, Much Ado About Nothing and Emma, before moving a little closer to the present with Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor and Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator — none of which seemed like a natural progression towards Selene.

Audiences were stunned in 2003 when the original Underworld was released, and there was Kate, dressed in skin-tight leather, leaping off tall buildings in a single bound, kicking some serious ass and offering up plenty of kills while attempting to work with and ultimately protect Scott Speedman’s werewolf (or Lycan) character, Michael. Three years later, Underworld: Evolution was released in which the duo uncovered a vast conspiracy that threatened both of their worlds. The third film, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans (2009) was a prequel, thus involving neither Kate or Scott.

UNDERWORLD, Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, 2003, (c) Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

She reprised the role in 2012’s Underworld: Awakening, which was described as follows: “After being held in a coma-like state for 15 years, vampire Selene learns that she has a 14-year-old vampire/Lycan hybrid daughter, Eve, and when she finds her, they must stop BioCom from creating super Lycans that will kill them all.” Four years later se would be back in Underworld: Blood Wars.

Beckinsale, who was born on July 26, 1973, most recently starred in the John Wick-inspired action film Jolt. What follows is an interview conducted with her prior to the release of Underworld: Awakening.

UNDERWORLD 2 :EVOLUTION, Kate Beckinsale, 2006, (c) Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: How does it feel to be returning to the Underworld universe, having missed the third film?

KATE BECKINSALE:  It’s weird, because I’ve never done a part multiple times except for this one, and the last time we did it was several years ago.  I think every woman who has to put on exactly what they wore eight years ago, the exact same thing, all they’re going to say is, “Wow, I look tired,” you know what I mean? It was great coming back, but you forget how the costume feels after lunch. I remember having a stomach ache for six months on the last one, but this is great. The original Underworld was a very special movie for me, because it changed many things in my life – some of them which I’m still reeling over, some of which I haven’t gotten accustomed to. Just the fact that I get to run around and be this character is still unbelievable to me; it’s so far from what my sensibility is. Doing this one, though, was weird without my [then] husband [Len Weisman] directing. But we got some lovely Swedish boys to direct. They really nice, and then Len was more in the capacity of God, where you sort of call questions over the mountains and he responds. [laughs]

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: Has Selene changed as a character?

KATE: Like I said, she looks a bit more tired. Basically the movie starts 13 or 14 years after the second one, and at the beginning of the movie Selene hasn’t changed at all, but the rest of the world has. She’s really trying to get up to speed with what actually happened and where she is and the fact that the Underworld isn’t really under, it’s kind of… out. So she’s kind of playing catch up with that.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, US poster art, Kate Beckinsale, 2012. ©Screen Gems/Courtesy Everett Collection


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